October 1924 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
046 Phil 337:
[G.R. No. L-22545. October 1, 1924. ]
BENITA QUIOGE DE V. DEL ROSARIO, with her husband, Salvador V. del Rosario, Petitioner, v. Honorable MIGUEL ROMUALDEZ, as Mayor of the City of Manila, Respondent.
Gibbs & McDonough for Petitioner.
City Fiscal Guevara for Respondent.
It is alleged in the complaint, among other things, that the petitioner is the owner of five school buildings in the City of Manila, with the lots on which the same are located, and that, at the time of the occurrences with which this petition is conversant, the city was using properties for school purposes under a rental contract with the petitioner. It is further alleged that in the latter part of the year 1923 the city authorities became desirous of purchasing said five properties, and negotiations to this end were accordingly begun, with the result that the petitioner agreed to sell, and the city agreed to buy, the said five properties for their assessed value, namely, the sum of P346,683.62. In order to carry this agreement into effect Ordinance No. 1169 was passed, and on February 7, 1924, the same was approved, whereby the acquisition of the properties at the price stated was authorized and sufficient money appropriated to make the initial payment thereon in the amount of one-half the purchase price, it having been agreed that the balance should be paid in deferred installments. The terms of this ordinance, after passing the first reading, were duly accepted by the petitioner in a written communication addressed by her to the Municipal Board.
The petition further alleges that, notwithstanding the perfecting of the court in the manner above stated, and notwithstanding the circumstance that the city has ample means in its treasury available for the initial payment upon the purchase, the respondent Mayor refuses to accept the deeds submitted by the petitioner, conveying the properties to the city, and likewise refuses to pay to the petitioner the amount due her upon said initial payment. This refusal on the part of the Mayor is alleged to be based upon the pretexts that the city has no money with which to meet the obligation and that the properties involved are not fit for school purposes. We may add that since the original petition in this case was filed the situation has become further complicated by the fact that the Ordinance No. 1169 has been repealed by a later Ordinance No. 1196, approved June 2, 1924; and the validity of the repealing ordinance has in consequence been assailed by the petitioner in her amended complaint.
Upon the facts above stated we are of the opinion that the writ of mandamus is not the appropriate, or even an admissible remedy. It is manifest that whatever rights the petitioner may have, upon the facts stated, are derived from her contract with the city; and no rule of law is better settled than that mandamus never lies to enforce the performance of private contracts. (Florida Central & Peninsular R. Co. v. State ex rel. Tavares, 20 L. R. A., 419.) The petitioner’s remedy, if any she has, is by an original action in the Court of First Instance to compel the city to pay the agreed price or to pay damages for the breach of contract.
In Montenegro-Riehm Music Co. v. Board of Education of Louisville (147 Ky., 720), the Supreme Court of Kentucky, discussing the writ of mandamus under a statute not unlike our own, said:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"The Code provision confines the exercise of this remedy to cases in which an executive or ministerial officer declines or omits to perform an act, the performance or omission of which is enjoined by the law. It is a special remedy, although perhaps not an extraordinary one, provided for the purpose of furnishing a speedy method of obtaining relief against an officer who fails or refuses to perform some duty imposed upon him by law. It was not contemplated that in cases of his character disputed issues of fact should be settled, but that the rights of the parties should be determined by such issues of law as might be presented by the pleadings, or an agreed state of facts, or a state of facts about which there could be little dispute. As said in Lowe v. Phelps (14 Bush, 642):jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"‘It must, therefore, appear upon every application for a mandamus that it is sought to compel him to do, and that he has upon proper application refused to perform that duty.’ (Citing numerous authorities).
"It was not intended to aid a plaintiff in the enforcement of a mere contract right, or to take the place of the other remedies provided by the law for the adjudication of disputed claims. Looking at the case from the standpoint of appellant, it involves nothing more than an ordinary breach of contact with the school board, it also had an adequate remedy at law to recover damages for its breach; and to permit the writ of mandamus to be used for the purpose of enforcing a mere contract right would be a wide departure from the settled practice in respect to the character of cases in which relief by mandamus may be obtained."cralaw virtua1aw library
In Parrot v. City of Bridgeport (44 Conn. 180), the writ was refused where the petitioner sought to compel a city to construct a public street in a certain manner agreeable to the terms of a special agreement between the petitioner and the city. In the course of the opinion the court said:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
". . . The duty, therefore, if any, which rests upon the city in this regard, is one which it owes to the petitioner as an individual, not to the public, and the special contract is the foundation upon which it rests. But the writ of mandamus has never been considered as an appropriate remedy for the enforcement of contract rights of a private and personal nature and obligations which rest wholly upon contract and which involved no questions of public trust or official duty. Indeed, strictly speaking, it never lies where the party aggrieved has adequate remedy at law, and its aid is only to be invoked to prevent an absolute failure of justice in cases where ordinary legal processes furnish no relief. In County Commissioners v. Zanesville Turnpike Co. (16 Ohio State R., 308), the relators prayed for a writ compelling the respondents to contribute three-fourths of the expense of repairing a bridge, upon the ground that they had contracted so to do. The court denied the writ for the reason that it its office to enforce obligations arising upon contracts. In State ex rel. Bohannon v. Howard County (39 Misso., 375), the relator prayed for the writ to compel the respondents to pay him a portion of his bounty as a volunteer. The petition was denied, the court saying that it would not ’undertake by writ of mandamus to enforce simple common law rights between individuals, such as payment of money, or where there is another adequate legal remedy.’ . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library
The authorities, almost without exception, support the doctrine stated in the foregoing cases, as will be seen by reference to Chicago v. Chicago Telephone Co. (230 Ill., 157; 13 L. R. A. [N. S. ], 1084); State ex rel. Burg v. Milwaukee Medical College (3 L. R. A. [N. S. ], 1115); State ex rel. Burg v. Milwaukee Medical College (128 Wis., 7; 116 A. S. R., 21); Booker v. Grand Rapids Medical College (156 Mich., 95; 24 L. R. A. [N. S. ], 447; 18 R. C. L., 129, 130).
It is true that are cases in which the writ of mandamus has been used to compel proper officers to signs or issue warrants, but it will be generally found that in such cases the contracts had been completely performed on the part of the petitioner, and nothing remained to be done except for the city to make compensation. In the case before us the alleged contract has not been fully performed on the part of the petitioner; and though she avers readiness to perform, grave questions are raised by the respondent as to the validity of the contract. From a perusal of the petition and consideration of the points presented by the demurrer, and consideration of the points presented by the demurrer, it is evident that ground is laid out for a complicated and hotly contested controversy over specific performance. The writ of mandamus is not an appropriate proceeding in which to try matters of this character; and the existence of the adequate remedy by original action in the Court of First Instance must be considered fatal to the right of this court to entertain the proceeding.
For the reason stated, the demurrer will be sustained, and unless within five days after notification hereof the petitioner shall so amend her petition as to show a sufficient cause of action, an order will be entered dismissing the same, with costs. So ordered.
Malcolm, Avanceña, Villamor, and Ostrand, JJ., concur.
Johnson, Acting C.J., and Romualdez, J., took no part in the decision of this case.